Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A different approach to file managing

I've been working for months, in my spare time, on DirectoryOpus 5 integration in Icaros Desktop. It's a great file manager, which allows every kind of operation on files. But the best part of Dopus 5 (or Magellan as we prefer to call it) is workbench replacement mode. In many aspects it might look old age: it uses Intuition and not MUI or Zune, it lacks grid-bounded icon ordering (Wanderer looks more polite with its automatically ordered windows), but it has many surprising customization strengths, even after all these years. In a few words, you can do with files wathever you like. This brought me to some simple, yet effective, philosophical considerations. In the age of iOS and Android phones, computing slightly turned from file-centric to App-centric habits: how would you open a document on your computer and your phone? I'd bet you're double clicking a file icon on the former, and run the required app on the latter. And that's natural: phones and tablets operating systems place applications icons on the same "desktop" where Windows, Linux and MacOS X generally leave you the freedom to place whatever you want, which normally means the most used/accessed files, or just the new ones when still work-in-progress. Or, at least, these were the 'habits' before Windows 8, and recent "we hate Microsoft but we follow her whatever unpleasant decision they may take" Linux distributions were released, after someone @Redmond thought turning PCs into bigger smart phones would have been cool. Well, here at Icaros Desktop we strongly believe that computers are computers and mobile devices are mobile devices. It does not matter how much portable a laptop is, it would be still used like a computer and not like a phone. Including Magellan in the distribution gave us a way to break these "new rules", placing back focus on files management: you can still use Icaros like you ever did with former releases (and AmigaOS or clones in general), but you will be also able to manage your files - when running Icaros with Magellan as workbench replacement - in a whole new way. Fellow Amiga users might find these lines quite obvious, but people who never used Dopus 5, or just grew up with Windows Explorer, will experience what a file-management oriented GUI means for personal productivity. Sure, lesser than a bunch of great applications, but isn't wasting time trying to figure out where files are, or how to do things with that "push the big fat red button" simplified GUI, simply irritating? Follow us, and in the next episodes we will explain how Magellan will save your nerves. For now, just open the screenshot: it will give you some hints...